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Old 03-08-2006, 09:45 AM   #26
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
Even the best translations are heavily filtered by the translator's own perspective and/or bias (conscious and unconscious). I recommend that you learn Japanese so that you can read the originals, without Mr. Stevens' filter.
I've commented about translations before and I'll mention it again... even native speakers of Japanese and Chinese, people who are raised in the culture but like any other person cannot know all the history and lore, will make mistakes in translations related to martial arts. Over and over again, in my experience, I've seen fluent translators and historians make enormous basic errors because they don't understand the context or functional usage some of the apocryphal comments in martial arts refer to. And I've yet to see any well-known western translartor really admit that problem; although the bright native-speaking translators will often admit that the idiom, ancient usage, etc., of the subject matter may make their translations incorrect. Everything has to be taken with a grain of salt... even what I say about taking things with a grain of salt.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-08-2006, 12:36 PM   #27
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
But that is just my own personal perspective, and it doesn't have to be shared by anyone else.
If only the Far Left and the Far Right shared that view.

Mike
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Old 03-08-2006, 12:49 PM   #28
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Yeah, like THAT'S ever gonna happen...

B,
R

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Old 03-09-2006, 12:31 PM   #29
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Over and over again, in my experience, I've seen fluent translators and historians make enormous basic errors because they don't understand the context or functional usage some of the apocryphal comments in martial arts refer to. And I've yet to see any well-known western translartor really admit that problem; although the bright native-speaking translators will often admit that the idiom, ancient usage, etc., of the subject matter may make their translations incorrect.
I too, occasionally find Stevens' views problematially peeping through translations. It is unavoidable, but it should be noted as a universal problem.
A good comparative source on a number of the Doka Stevens translates (e.g. -- "Essence of AIkido") may be found in "Budo Training in Aikido. " The translators of "Budo Training in AIkido" use both a translation that attempts to leave the waka form of the Japanese verse intact in very spare, nearly literal word for word transcription, and a parallel translation into more idiomatic English versiform.

Also great pictures and techinques descriptions drawn directly from O-Sensei's own class presentations. Much worth having.

The comparisons betwen the parallel verses and Stevens versions are instructive and the differences are interesting.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 03-09-2006, 12:52 PM   #30
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Thanks for the pointer, Erick. I will buy the book and take a look (what the hey.... what's one more book on top of the tons I already have ).

There are already some deathly quiet book-writers in the Chinese martial arts who have found out belatedly that they badly missed the boat on the qi and jin issues in earlier books because even though they were reasonably fluent and knowledgeable, this closed-category of knowledge had its own set of idiom and allusion. Literal translations or even translations with some degree of context were thwarted by the fact that the authors hadn't themselves been exposed to this area of studies. The perspective about the knowledge contained in both Chinese and Japanese martial arts is changing currently, although there will be some people that will cling to what they think they know until they are phased out. We're all human, ain't we?

FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-09-2006, 03:37 PM   #31
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Thanks for the pointer, Erick. I will buy the book and take a look (what the hey.... what's one more book on top of the tons I already have ). Mike
Hello Mike,

If you can find it, the older parallel Japanese - English translation is very much worth having. It is a photographed copy of the original with all the Chinese characters, which I think would be very illuminating, for you, with your extensive background in CMA.

Best regards,

PAG

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Old 03-09-2006, 04:20 PM   #32
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Re: Ki and Technique...

I have already ordered the book, thanks, Peter. It will be interesting to see what additional information I can glean, although... as I pointed out... translating literally without a complete understanding of the idiom of the times, the allegories, the allusions, etc., in relation to the culture can sometimes lead a person to a conclusion that may not be exactly accurate.

In Stevens' work I have also seen no indication that he personally ever trained in the ki and "kei" (essence of what we're calling "kokyu") regimens. So, without implying any personal diminishment of Stevens' abilities, I'm positing (fairly safely, I might add) that Stevens had difficulty with accuracy because he wasn't familiar with the topic.

In Stevens' translation of the essence of Aikido, his one tranlation of the "Eight Powers" is pretty much enough to lay the topic away, even if he translated nothing else. The "Eight Powers" or "Four Poles" are only used in one context, the training of ki and kei (jin)abilities.

The common basal discussion of ki training has to do with combining the ki of heaven with the ki of earth. Even though it is a cosmological concept (the "ki of heaven", the "ki of earth", and Man in the Center or on a bridge between the two), the idea of using the MInd, the Yi, the Will (Ueshiba calls it the "Divine Will" in pretty clear usage, even via translations) in conjunction with the Ki of Heaven, Ki of Earth, etc., again pretty much lays it away. The essence of training yourself to gain ki powers is through subtle exercises of "the ki of heaven" and the "ki of earth" that are related to the mind and fascia-related systems while doing various movements to effect body-wide training of the abilities.

The point I'm getting at is that even without a contextual understanding of what Ueshiba was referring to, the literal or near-literal translations that are available are so solid as to prompt me to bet my house without any reservations whatsoever on the idea that Ueshiba was making pretty standard references to ki-related training. If nothing else, a translator who knew these topics and how to train them, could not have missed the obvious relationship and, if he thought Ueshiba referred to something else, would have been duty-bound to mention the relationship and give reasons for discounting it.

In addition, if you add the overt ki demonstrations by Ueshiba (which mimic old Chinese demonstrations of qi almost exactly), the basic practices contained within his Misogi rituals (again with direct parallels and definitive Chinese Buddhist heritage to support the idea) the obvious is supported again. If I thought a little bit longer and went more completely through all the other markers, I could probably extend the argument with other examples. However, given the number of similar writings and comments, the "harmony of the universe", etc., I don't think it's all that necessary.

My suggestion is that anyone interested in following the Chinese-related clues which abound in Ueshiba's writings (even the Shinto elements appear to be based on the wuji-taiji cosmology) might consider going beyond debating the exact translations of Ueshiba's writings and go to the Chinese martial sources to see where Ueshiba was drawing his inspiration.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-10-2006, 08:03 AM   #33
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
My suggestion is that anyone interested in following the Chinese-related clues which abound in Ueshiba's writings (even the Shinto elements appear to be based on the wuji-taiji cosmology) might consider going beyond debating the exact translations of Ueshiba's writings and go to the Chinese martial sources to see where Ueshiba was drawing his inspiration.
Now you've got me curious.
While I agree that there certainly appear some obvious parallels and correlations and translations imply some level of distortion or misinterpretation, where have you found specific historical reference that Ueshiba specifically studied Chinese martial arts or cosmology?
I enjoy it when I am wrong because it means I am learning.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 03-10-2006, 08:45 AM   #34
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
where have you found specific historical reference that Ueshiba specifically studied Chinese martial arts or cosmology?
I don't think Mike is saying that Ueshiba studied under a Chinese instructor to learn these things. I believe he is saying that through-out asia, there is a way of refering to a method of training the body, and that phrases such as 'uniting the ki of heaven and the ki of earth, through the body of man' signify a connection (however diluted or distant) to these methodologies. So you may have these phrases passed down in items like the Kojiki, or other texts, and Ueshiba would have gotten this exposure there.

I believe even in shinto in general, you can see influences from mainland culture and cosmology...but that is really a discussion for the scholars, which I am not.

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-10-2006, 10:32 AM   #35
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
where have you found specific historical reference that Ueshiba specifically studied Chinese martial arts or cosmology?
Well, wait.... I never said Ueshiba studied Chinese martial arts or cosmology, nor did I imply it. However, a number of posts on these forums (see some of Ellis's stuff) have mentioned the wide relationships and there is a broad literature (not to mention how obvious it is even in casual reading) discussing the borrowing of Chinese Buddhist thought and Chinese cosmology by the Japanese in Buddhism and Shintoism. Shinto was originally an animist belief system, but it changes in many sects to a cosmology based on the wuji, taiji, liangyi, sixiang, etc., of Chinese cosmology. I'll be glad to expand a little bit if you'll tell me where you're losing the thread of thought, Lynn, but I assumed most people understood that the clear parallels between Chinese cosmology and Japanese cognate were there.

If nothing else, there should be an epiphany simply from the fact that the Japanese use the same ki/qi paradigm that is used in China. Ki/qi is not like, for instance, a hair-style, kimono, alphabet or something stand-alone which was borrowed as a convenient term.... Ki/qi is a keystone of the Chinese cosmology; the fact that the Japanese use the term "ki" should imply the rest of the cosmology is there.

Ueshiba's writings directly and indirectly (through Shinto, Buddhist, etc., cognates derived from Chinese cosmology, etc.) use the Chinese cosmology and perspectives.

I once posted the URL of a picture of Tohei standing behind Ueshiba's (seated) right shoulder. I did this to show how the Japanese martial arts have borrowed from the Chinese traditions even down to the smallest details of protocol and tradition, such as a disciple only being pictured in certain ways in relation to the master. The modern times seem to have forgotten the extreme depths of borrowing during the past ages... something Ellis Amdur has posted about a few times, noting particularly the Edo Period, but it was common at other times, as well.

It is common in the Chinese martial arts to show that everything "correct" follows the dictates of the cosmological harmony. To that effect, martial arts allude many of their tenets and principles to Chinese cosmology ("Tai chi huan", "Baguazhang", "Liangyiquan", etc.). Ueshiba's use of the "Ki of Heaven", "Ki of Earth" (do a Google on those terms but use "qi", if you want to see the basic cosmological theories) in relation to the "Divine Will", combining them for power, the "eight powers", etc., are a dead giveaway that Ueshiba is borrowing from the common Chinese references which also refer to elements of ki and power principles.

Is someone "wrong" for not knowing these things, Lynn? No. We have to all learn these things at one time or another; I take pride in how much I learn every year, not in what I already know.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 03-10-2006, 11:36 AM   #36
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Re: Ki and Technique...

FWIW,

I have heard it posited the O-Sensei, given the times in which he grew up and developed his budo, was knowingly or unknowingly a neo-Confucian first, a Buddhist second, and a Shintoist third.

I await the onslaught of disbelief....

Mike
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Old 03-10-2006, 12:04 PM   #37
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Well, wait.... I never said Ueshiba studied Chinese martial arts or cosmology, nor did I imply it.
Appreciate the clarification.

I think I was trying to connect the dots directly with one line instead of connecting the influences from this dot, to that dot, to that dot, to that dot, to Ueshiba.

I guess in someway everything influences everything else if you connect the dots right. Sorta butterfly effect.

Thanks.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 03-10-2006, 01:48 PM   #38
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
So you may have these phrases passed down in items like the Kojiki, or other texts, and Ueshiba would have gotten this exposure there.
I believe even in shinto in general, you can see influences from mainland culture and cosmology...but that is really a discussion for the scholars, which I am not.
Curse the B.A. in East Asian studies (big breath now,) ::

Taoist Confucianism came to Japan in the fifth century, two or three hundred years before the components of the Kojiki were being sytematically written down. The wuji -taiji system (Tai Ji - Liang Yi- Si Xiang-Ba Gua) underlies the Ichirei Shikon Sangen Hachiriki system with the notable distinction of Sangen (three forms) versus Liang Yi (two powers). "Two becomes three" process theology has an exceedingly broad and deep lineage.

We do not have good evidence as to any precursor manuscripts of the Kojiki, almost all of which were likely lost in the wars of the landed nobility against the militant temples. The present text of the Kojiki dates from the eighth century. Needless to say, it had no footnotes or bibliography.

There is far less culturual isolation in the world from a very early period than some histories would have you believe. The Tao Te Ching lays out this same process philosophy (Tao begets One, the One begets Two, Two begets three, and Three begets the ten thousand things.) "Two becomes three" trinitarian process philosophy in Taoism is related to the development of Maitreyan trinitarian ideas (Trikaya = three bodies or forms) along the Silk road in the third century. Gandhara (Kandahar in Afghanaistan) and Bamian (the blown up buddhas) were primary Hellenic Buddhist centers. The extreme similarity of Trikaya doctrine to Christian trinitarian incarnationalism speaks for itself, and the Christian triniatrian ideas have Hellenic (and Semitic) precursors. Direct parallels lie between these and the Kojiki's creational trinity, Amenominakanushi no kami, Takamimusubi no kami, and Kamimusubi no kami.

Maitreya Buddha is expressly messianic, the first soteric (savior) image in Eastern religious thought, thought to have developed in the firts century, as is Amida (ca. 2d century). Maitreya is seen in China as early as the third century. Amida is seen in China somewhat later. Amida and the ever popular Guanyin/Kwannon are often depicted in a trinity with Seishi (Dai Shi ZhI (e.g. -- (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:C...e_bouddha.jpg).
The Amida's Pure Land paradiase is almost surely Persian in origin, as is the word "paradise."

The lineage of savior traditions has Non-Christian Hellenic and Semitic roots. These may have a direct common source in Persian Zoraoastrianism (or indirectly through Mithraism). Persian culture still maintains its distinctive attachment to savior theology even under Islam, as witness the Shi-ite belief in the Mahdi oir Mehdi, the mysteriously hidden Twelfth Imam whose reappearence will signal the final struggle and saving of all believers. Kojiki Shinto has Suwano as a strong parallel to this line of savior theology.

Lao-tse is dated to sometime in the fourth century. He legendarily passed out of all knowledge in China into the West on his blue ox. Hellenic and Christian thought influenced Taoist and Indian Buddist teaching going east, both of which were passing together over the Silk Road to China between the first and sixth centuries. Not well-enough known is the fact that the first written Mongolian is transcribed in a vertically oriented (Chinese style) Aramaic script (that's what Jesus spoke).

The most notable modern exponents of this long tradition in process thought in the West have been Alfred North Whitehead, Bertrand Russell and more recently, although few know it, Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul, II, John Paul was a well-regarded philosopher in phenomenology before he became Pope.

Later Japanese systemization of the Kojiki Shinto attempted to "purge" it of "foreign" elements and interpretations under the Kokugaku (National Studies) in the nineteenth century. Hirata Atsutane, and Motoori Norinaga, were leading figures in this process and have been recurrently criticized for supposed "Christian" influences (as were others for being too "buddhist".)

But as you see here, the connections are far deeper.

FWIW.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 03-10-2006, 01:51 PM   #39
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Incidentally, I got a copy of the book, "Budo Training in Aikido" (Sugawara Martial Arts Institute) and looked at their translations of Ueshiba's douka.... and incidentally, the douka are *supposed* to contain secret references to the art, so why someone questioned (on another thread) the idea that there were "codewords" being used is a bit startling.

My personal preferences for the translations actually has to go to Stevens, if there is a preference for literal translation. By shifting some of the translations idiom, the Sugawara translation actually obscures some of the references. "Ki" as used by Ueshiba is not meant to be "breath" (one of a number of possible translations), but is used in the etheric sense that would similarly be implied in Chinese commentaries along similar veins... in my opinion. So "heavenly breath", for instance, should be left as "the ki of heaven" as it's tranlated in normal cosmological references. There are other instances where I think the intent is obscured somewhat, but I don't know if it's ever possible to translate deliberately cryptic obscurata into clear English directions. ;^) Still, there is probably an ideal compromise, assuming the translator understands the background and is able to do a clarifying discussion as a preface, etc., for the douka translations.

My opinion, FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-10-2006, 01:59 PM   #40
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Later Japanese systemization of the Kojiki Shinto attempted to "purge" it of "foreign" elements and interpretations under the Kokugaku (National Studies) in the nineteenth century. Hirata Atsutane, and Motoori Norinaga, were leading figures in this process and have been recurrently criticized for supposed "Christian" influences (as were others for being too "buddhist".)
I don't know enough real Japanese history to understand exactly what happened and when, but it's pretty obvious that the massive and rather public intermingling and availability of Chinese studies (particularly martial and related) has somehow been obscured at some recent time in history. Whether it was the 19th Century or in the 20th Century, it's hard to tell.

However, there are historians out there that seem to know that there was an open focus on Chinese body-technology and martial arts at earlier times... facts that seem to be almost fanatically denied nowadays in many corners. Western histories often parrot these nationalistic ideas and all it does is slow the search for information and sources, IMO.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:20 PM   #41
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Re: Ki and Technique...

BTW, Lao Tse is fourth century - BC - lest someone misinterpret my omission on that point.

Erick Mead
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:31 PM   #42
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I don't know enough real Japanese history to understand exactly what happened and when, but it's pretty obvious that the massive and rather public intermingling and availability of Chinese studies (particularly martial and related) has somehow been obscured at some recent time in history. Whether it was the 19th Century or in the 20th Century, it's hard to tell.
That was the EXPRESS purpose of the nineteenth century Kokugaku (National Studies) movement to remove or diminish all foreign elements, in service of the imperial cult and the resulting ascendancy of State Shinto. Consequently, the common Japanese soldier of the thirties, educated in state schools, had little knowledge of extent of the cultural debt owed to the Chinese. And we all know where that led.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:32 PM   #43
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Hmmm, yes, that was the first thing that occurred to me (not).

Thank you for the post...that was a very clear presentation. One interesting thing about John Steven's presentations in this area is that he often plays up these commonalities in a very general way. I think he would get less criticism for this if he laid out some of the back ground as you have just done. I believe he considers his approach as making these topics 'accessible' to occidentals.

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-10-2006, 03:19 PM   #44
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
That was the EXPRESS purpose of the nineteenth century Kokugaku (National Studies) movement to remove or diminish all foreign elements, in service of the imperial cult and the resulting ascendancy of State Shinto. Consequently, the common Japanese soldier of the thirties, educated in state schools, had little knowledge of extent of the cultural debt owed to the Chinese. And we all know where that led.
Thanks... I knew there had to be *something* like that. And unfortunately, everyone who learns from Japanese sources nowadays is subject to furthering that impression of Japan's nationalistic history because that's what they learn. Now I'm curious to see what really happened in a couple of isolated cases (e.g., Chen Gempin) befor the Kokugaku got hold of them.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 03-12-2006, 05:01 PM   #45
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Michael Mackenzie wrote:
FWIW,

I have heard it posited the O-Sensei, given the times in which he grew up and developed his budo, was knowingly or unknowingly a neo-Confucian first, a Buddhist second, and a Shintoist third.

I await the onslaught of disbelief....

Mike
I'm hardly an expert, but I'm curious what the basis for that position is, considering the level of devotion Osensei seems to have had for Omoto-kyo and Shinto mythology in general. Based strictly on that it would seem to me the Omoto-kyo form of Shinto would be better described as his "primary" dogma. I wonder too, how much influence Confucianism has on Shinto and if that is what some people might be seeing. I know Buddhism has had quite a bit of influence and there are very similar concepts such as that of yin and yang which pervade much of eastern philosophy. Are similar inclusions perhaps why some say what you said regarding that hierarchy of paradigms?
Take care!
Matt

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Old 03-13-2006, 04:23 PM   #46
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
I wonder too, how much influence Confucianism has on Shinto and if that is what some people might be seeing. I know Buddhism has had quite a bit of influence and there are very similar concepts such as that of yin and yang which pervade much of eastern philosophy. Are similar inclusions perhaps why some say what you said regarding that hierarchy of paradigms?
Hierarchy, yep. That is the name of the game in Japanese history.
Confucianism, or more properly Neo-Confucianism of the Ming, was very influential on Shinto during the Tokugawa period. A similar pattern obtained earlier. From about 1200-1600 (the Kamakura/Muromachi period) the succesive Shogunates promoted Ryobu Shinto as a means of regularizing Shinto practice within Buddhist monastic institutions, and thus registering all people with a Buddhist temple or monastery. This identified potential rival sources of power and was used to control the population. The monasteries, particularly the mountain monasteries, then became quite independent as sources of power in their own right. They played near king-maker roles by the time of the Warring States period, just prior to the Edo (Tokugawa period). Nobunaga destroyed all the yamabushi monasteries and he, and Ieyasu Tokuagawa then imported Neo-Confucianism (which had already in some respects syncretized many Buddhist elements within it).

NeoConfucianism then formed an institutional bulwark of the Tokugawa shogunate in a centralized manner, as distinguished from the more disperesed institutional framework among the Buddhist temple, which had fulfilled the same role under the Ryobu Shinto system. Shinto shrines then adopted a role of ritual support of Neo-Confucian ideals, all controlled from the Edo Shogunate in a tightly disciplined scheme of appointments. This continued until the restoration of the Meiji Emperor. State Shinto was then cultivated to repalce the Neo-Confucian order so strongly associated with the Shogunate, and the Kokugaku (national studies) attempted to "purify Shinto of these "foreign elements." An impossible task, as you will surely imagine.

O-Sensei was raised in this period and reacted strongly against it by experimienting with the Omoto community, itself a reactive hodge-podge (along with the other "new religions, viciously suppressed by the Japanese state) which presented blenderized ideas generally opposed to and subversive of the pyramidal ideology of the Emperor cult.

The result, in many areas of the Kokugaku endeavor, is very much the ideological dog's breakfast that is seen in the same period in European political thought. That simultaneously gave us the national imperialism, the invented German king, the invented Italian king, and in a similar pattern of adhoc ideological reactions, anarchism, socialism, communism, and, eventually fascism and Nazism.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 03-13-2006, 04:38 PM   #47
Mike Sigman
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
O-Sensei was raised in this period and reacted strongly against it by experimienting with the Omoto community, itself a reactive hodge-podge (along with the other "new religions, viciously suppressed by the Japanese state) which presented blenderized ideas generally opposed to and subversive of the pyramidal ideology of the Emperor cult.
I think "blenderized" is a good term for what I notice in the religion-related maunderings of Ueshiba's writings. There is a very noticeable admixture of Shinto and Buddhism along with Chinese cosmology.

Speaking of "blenderized", I wonder how strong the translations of "peace and love" would have been if more of the translators had understood the "harmony with/of the universe" idea in the context of Chinese cosmology which stresses the importance of a Way of no conflict with the physical laws?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:16 AM   #48
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I think "blenderized" is a good term for what I notice in the religion-related maunderings of Ueshiba's writings. There is a very noticeable admixture of Shinto and Buddhism along with Chinese cosmology.
Speaking of "blenderized", I wonder how strong the translations of "peace and love" would have been if more of the translators had understood the "harmony with/of the universe" idea in the context of Chinese cosmology which stresses the importance of a Way of no conflict with the physical laws?
Don't get me wrong. Omoto was simply a less discriminating syncretic effort than that of Neo-Confuciuanism, Ryobu Shinto or others (even Kokugaku). Its emphasis was on heart not logic. That syncretic tendency underlies much of spiritual thinking in the East, and most strongly in Japan.
Our analytic preferences pervade our theology to a fault as the synthetic preferences of the Japanese pervade theirs.

As to "peace/love," try reading "A Terrible Love of War" by James Hillman (2004). I don't agree with everything he concludees at the end, but his observations of the relationship between love and ferocious martial spirit are profound -- as well as disturbing.
He does much to make O-Sensei's point (Budo = Love) much more comprehensible to typical Western sensibility, without ever even mentioning aikido.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 03-15-2006, 01:55 PM   #49
Stephen Kotev
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Re: Ki and Technique...

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:

As to "peace/love," try reading "A Terrible Love of War" by James Hillman (2004). I don't agree with everything he concludees at the end, but his observations of the relationship between love and ferocious martial spirit are profound -- as well as disturbing.
He does much to make O-Sensei's point (Budo = Love) much more comprehensible to typical Western sensibility, without ever even mentioning aikido.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
Erick,

Can you say more about Hillman and his conclusions? Sounds fascinating.

Cheers,
Stephen
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Old 03-15-2006, 05:46 PM   #50
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Ki and Technique...

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Stephen Kotev wrote:
Erick,
Can you say more about Hillman and his conclusions? Sounds fascinating.
Cheers,
Stephen
Basically, Hillman begins by observing that war is a universal condition of human history at all times and in all societies, without substanital exception. He then examines the reasons for this, and comes to some startling conclusions. War exists in human society because
1) war is sublime
(and therefore simultenously horrific and exhilirating beyond normaitve measures of experience)

2) war is inhuman
(and therefore not capable of human(e) controls) and

3) war is religion
(therefore commanding commitment of resources (personal and collective) beyond merely rational calculations).

War seduces and entices those minds suited to it, and maims those unsuited minds that are exposed to it. Those who learn to bear the experience of war, more often feel love for those who endure it with them in ways beyond their capacity to adequately express, and in ways that seem to surpass in depth and intensity all other experiences of loving.
Hillman suggests therefore that love is at the root of war, and that love's protective impulse, individually and collectively, is among the most powerful (and non-rational) of human motivators, precisely because if its proven ability to motivate people to act in the face of and in spite of any ordinary limits imposed by experiences of extreme horror and abject terror.

He then begins his conclusion by observing that aesthetics controls martial spirit (spit, polish, and all that finery) as it does loving endeavors ( yet more proof of the close affiliation) He presents good arguments for this. He suggests that martial virtue and the spirit of fierce and rash love that is present within war can also aid us in stopping a conflict from starting in ways that rationality and mere peace-talk can never do. He presents an ancient Greek Hymn to Ares and analyzes its purposes to this end, which is fascinating as well.
All in all, I find much that resonates in Hillman's observations with my study of Aikido, in both technique and as a more general philosophical approach. It is mightily compelling that when considered from a purely Western perspective the same themes find their way to the surface.
The aspect of gracefulness and beauty inherent in our movements does help to control and channel our agression into paths that protect rather than injure. Ugly technique is by an large bad technique.
The awakening of the instinctive impulse to [Attack!!] (irimi) in the face of danger is at the heart of every aikido technique. This distinguishes the warrior mind that is not harmed by exposure ot battle, from the non-warrior mind that is wekedn and debilitated by violence which breaks their will and calm.

And yet in this same way, by allowing our will (to attack) to be bent or broken the result is turned (tenkan) from harm. By then completely accepting the attack we have first entered into with fierce determination, we bring our enemy, our partner, within the bounds of the same spirit of protection that impels us to respond aggressively to the attack in the first place.

Again, I highly recommend it.
Cordially,
Erick Mead
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